Jeneane Beck, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0054
Why I came to Iowa
Why I came to Iowa
Why I came to Iowa
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to talk with individual faculty, students, staff, and others about what drew me to the University of Iowa, my approach to the role of president, and the need to work together. I’d like to take this opportunity to start a broader conversation.
Why the University of Iowa?
I’ve been asked this question by both supporters and detractors in recent weeks. If you belong to the University of Iowa community, you’ve probably asked yourself, or been asked, this same question.
Let me offer my answer. You may find that I came to the University of Iowa for much the same reason you did.
I am a graduate of a public research institution, and I believe these institutions are the foundation of our future. Through their mission of teaching, research, and service, they promise to make our individual and collective lives better.
The University of Iowa addresses these missions with a balanced commitment to the sciences, arts, and humanities; a culture that sincerely wants every student to succeed; and a deep sense of obligation to the people of its state. It’s a unique place with an essential purpose.
This is why I was interested.
Our goals are timeless, but our circumstances new. Higher education stands at the threshold of changes driven by increased competition, diminished federal and state funding, increased tuition, rapid technology shifts, and questions about its value.
At Iowa, I have met people with the will to tackle these changing circumstances head-on. Our campus and community are ready to meet those challenges with creativity and commitment, and I want to help us chart our future.
Over the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with faculty members, staff, students, alumni, and friends. I have learned much about the university, and I know I have much more to discover.
Our university is diverse and dynamic, challenging each of us to grasp its complex, ever-changing character. As president, it’s my responsibility to respect and protect the whole.
These early conversations have allowed me the opportunity to listen, as well as the chance to illustrate my leadership style. Leadership requires careful listening, seeing problems through others’ eyes, and understanding that the best solutions come when we establish strong teams, exchange ideas, and work together.
These meetings have also given me the opportunity to specifically address concerns raised by faculty, staff, and students. Some of the points I’ve emphasized:
- I fully support faculty tenure. It provides the foundation for academic freedom, protects innovative research and scholarship, and ensures that our students can learn from the best in their fields.
- I am a strong supporter of the storied history of shared governance on our campus. With shared governance, however, comes shared responsibility. Through this collaborative process, we will create opportunities for success for our faculty, staff, and students. This success will require unwavering advocacy on behalf of this great university across our state, nation, and world, and I will deliver this support unconditionally.
- I believe we must invest in our people. Even in lean times, we can’t lose sight of the fact that faculty, staff, and students are the university. We need to recruit the best and give them the support they need to excel in learning, teaching, research, and scholarship.
- I will honor our character, traditions, and legacy, enhancing our distinctive strengths in the arts and humanities. Iowa has built an art collection that includes treasures like Jackson Pollock’s Mural, pioneering programs like the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and an academic culture that emphasizes the role of the liberal arts in shaping students’ practical skills and perspectives on life. These form our core, and they must be protected and built upon at all costs.
I’ve heard plenty of misconceptions about my vision and values, so let me suggest this: If you hear something that worries you, simply ask me directly. I’ll give you an honest answer.
We owe it to our university and ourselves to work together on today’s problems and build an institution that’s even more responsive, relevant, and respected. I believe we best meet the future by shoring up our core strengths—teaching and mentoring, research, scholarship, clinical care, and artistic creation.
We need to remember why so many of us have chosen Iowa as a place to study, work, and live. We are creative and collaborative, inspired by this place and its history. We’re pragmatic but not afraid to think big. We value hard work, we speak forthrightly, and we honor our promises. That’s why we are Iowa.
Our success requires consistent, honest communication. I’m committed to keeping you informed and to hearing what matters most to you and to our university.
I appreciate everyone who has reached out to offer astute advice and wise counsel. My wife, Mary, and I look forward to officially joining the University of Iowa and the community on November 2.